Summer reading program receives award

Dec. 05, 2012 @ 08:29 AM

In trying to craft a new idea for the summer reading program, Rutherford County Libraries, Children's Librarian Jeannie Smith was looking for something a little different.

So, Smith developed a program called "One World, Many Stories" and she added a twist: instead of having readers read books for prizes, she helped the kids raise money for "Books for Africa," a non-profit organization that provides books to libraries in needy communities in Africa.

That program was recently awarded the Outstanding Children's Programming Award for 2011-12 by the North Carolina Public Library Directors' Association.

“For Rutherford County to win this award is a true testament to the giving nature of our people—in particular the kids," Smith said. "They were willing to give up recognition of their own in order to help others that aren’t as fortunate."

Under the summer reading program, for every 10 picture books, or for every 100 pages read in a chapter book, the readers earned what was called a "Reading Buck." When the program ended, all of the 'Bucks' were collected and a sponsor donated the amount in real dollars to the "Books for Africa" program.

“In choosing a non-profit to be the recipient of the money collected by reading books, I tried to find one that the kids could identify with," Smith said. "Books for Africa not only fits with our mission of supporting literacy, but also was an easy concept for the younger participants."

With 190 children registered in the Reading Club, they raised $586 which was enough for "Books for Africa" to buy and ship 1,172 books.

"I’m really proud of them," Smith said. "And I’m also glad that Rutherford County is being brought to the forefront in North Carolina, showing that smaller communities can have quality services for their citizens, as well as in the large cities.”

And, she said, getting the readers involved in the program was not a difficult task.

"All I had to do was point to all the books in the Library and tell the children that many kids their own age didn’t even have one book, let alone all of these to choose from," Smith said. "They took it from there.”

Now, Smith will travel to Winston-Salem to present the program to the North Carolina Public Library Directors' Association, and receive the award.